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Evodiamine from Evodia rutaecarpa induces apoptosis via activation of JNK and PERK in human ovarian cancer cells.

ABSTRACT

Background: Evodiamine (EVO; 8,13,13b,14-tetrahydro-14-methylindolo[2'3'-3,4]pyrido[2,1-b]quinazolin5-[7H]-one derived from the traditional herbal medicine Evodia rutaecarpa was reported to possess anticancer activity; however, the anticancer mechanism of EVO against the viability of human ovarian cancer cells is still unclear.

Purpose: A number of studies showed that chemotherapeutic benefits may result from targeting the endoplasmic reticular (ER) stress signaling pathway. The objective of the study is to investigate the mechanism by which ER stress protein PERK plays in EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells. Methods: Cell death analysis was performed by MTT assay, DNA fragmentation assay, and Giemsa staining. DiOC6 staining was used for mitochondrial membrane potential measurement. Protein levels were analyzed by Western blotting. Pharmacological studies using MAPK inhibitors and PERK inhibitor GSK2606414 were involved.

Results: The viability of human ovarian cancer cells A2780, A2780CP, ES-2, and SKOV-3 was inhibited by EVO at various concentrations in accordance with increases in the percentage of apoptotic cells, DNA ladders, and cleavage of caspase 3 and poly(ADP ribose) polymerase (PARP) proteins. Decreased viability of cells was reversed by adding caspase inhibitors VAD and DEVD in SKOV-3 and A2780CP cells, and incubation of cells with JNK inhibitor SP600125 (SP) and JNK1, but not other MAPK and AKT inhibitors including PD98059, SB203580, significantly prevented the apoptosis elicited by EVO in human ovarian cancer cells. Furthermore, increased expression of phospho-eIF2[alpha] (peIF2[alpha]) and phospho-PERK (pPERK) proteins was detected in EVO-treated human ovarian cancer cells, and that was inhibited by adding JNK inhibitors SP600125 and JNKI. Application of a PERK inhibitor GSK2606414 showed a significant protection of human ovarian cancer cells A2780 and A2780CP from EVO-induced apoptosis. EVO disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) was also inhibited by adding JNK or PERK inhibitors. The structure-activity relationship study indicated that the alkyl group at position 14 in EVO is important for apoptosis induction via activation of JNK and PERK in human ovarian cancer cells.

Conclusion: Evidence supporting EVO induction of apoptosis via activation of JNK and PERK to disrupt MMP in human ovarian cancer cells is provided, and the alkyl at position 14 is a critical substitution for the apoptotic actions of EVO.

Keywords:

Evodiamine

Apoptosis

JNK

PERK

Human ovarian cancer

Introduction

Ovarian carcinoma is the leading cause of death due to gynecological malignancies (Alvarez et al., 1999), and > 70% of patients face a relapse and ultimately die of their disease (Rauh-Hain et al., 2011). The standard treatment for ovarian cancer remains surgical debulking and chemotherapy with a platinum and taxane agent (Marsh, 2009; Raja et al., 2012). Cisplatin and its analogues are first-line chemotherapeutic agents for treating human ovarian cancer by forming DNA-protein crosslinks (Kelland, 2005; McKeage, 2005), which trigger apoptosis. However, most patients with late-stage disease at diagnosis eventually develop resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy. Apoptosis is one way that anticancer agents eradicate cancer cells (Johnstone et al., 2002), and activation of caspase cascades (Logue and Martin, 2008), including caspase-3, and poly(ADP ribose) polymerase (PARP) protein cleavage with the occurrence of DNA fragmentation are characteristics of apoptosis (Herceg and Wang, 1999). Therefore, it is urgent to explore novel agents that possess the ability to induce apoptosis in order to treat ovarian cancer.

A number of studies showed that chemotherapeutic benefits may result from targeting the endoplasmic reticular (ER) stress signaling pathway (Schonthal, 2012, 2013; Xu et al., 2014). Cellular stresses and cytotoxic conditions can lead to ER stress via interfering with protein folding, which causes the accumulation of unfolded proteins and activates a complex of signaling cascades called the unfolded protein response (UPR) (Fulda et al., 2010). Previous studies indicated that the UPR may attenuate ER stress thus promoting cell survival, or initiate apoptosis when the ER stress machinery is significantly over-activated (Wang and Kaufman, 2012). Previous reports indicated moderate levels of ER stress in tumor cells and low endogenous levels of ER stress in normal cells (Fels and Koumenis, 2006; Marciniak et al., 2004). Therefore, a therapeutic approach would be to expose tumor cells to ER stress inducers, thereby inducing apoptosis, which would be a promising method because it is difficult to achieve ER stress-mediated cell death in normal cells. Double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase (PERK) is a member of the ER stress sensors that regulate survival and cytotoxic ER stress pathways (Parmar and Schroder, 2012). PERK can form homodimers and is activated by trans-autophosphorylation which phosphorylates the [alpha]-subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor-2[alpha] (eIF2[alpha]) leading to inhibition that prevents additional accumulation of newly synthesized proteins into the ER (Zhang and Kaufman, 2008). Activation of the PERK signaling cascade leads to prosurvival and proapoptotic outputs. eIF2[alpha] phosphorylated by PERK is considered to be cytoprotective via reducing the load of newly synthesized proteins in the ER (Zhang and Kaufman, 2008). However, phosphorylation of elF2[alpha] was also found to increase ATF4 protein expression, which is associated with the CHOP protein, to initiate proapoptotic signaling (Lee et al., 2007).

Evodiamine (EVO), an active ingredient in many traditional medicinal formulations, was isolated from various medicinal plants including plant extracts of E. rutaecarpa (Rutaceae), root bark of Zanthoxylum budrunga wall and Evodiae fructus, and several biological effects of EVO including antitumor, antinociceptive, and vasorelaxant properties were reported (Kan et al., 2007; Kobayashi, 2003). EVO showed an inhibitory effect on tumor cell migration in vitro, and induced cell death in several cell types, but had little effect on normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (Lee et al., 2006). Ogasawara et al. reported inhibitory effects of EVO against the invasion and lung metastasis of colon carcinoma cells (Ogasawara et al., 2002; Ogasawara and Suzuki, 2004). In addition to an antitumor effect, EVO may inhibit insulin-stimulated mTOR-S6K activation in adipocytes and improves glucose tolerance of obese/diabetic mice (Chien et al., 2014). Our re cent study demonstrated that activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) played a critical role in EVO-induced apoptosis of human colorectal carcinoma cells. Although apoptosis by EVO was identified in various cancer cell lines, how EVO affects the viability of human ovarian cancer cells and the participatory role of PERK are still unclear. In this study, EVO inhibited the viability of the A2780, A2780CP, SKOV-3, and ES-2 human ovarian cancer cell lines with increased apoptotic characteristics such as DNA ladders, caspase-3 and PARP cleavage and hypodiploid cells. EVO-induced apoptosis was prevented by the JNK inhibitors, but not by other mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) or PI3K inhibitors. Induction of phosphorylated (p)PERK and eukaryotic translation initiation factor-2[alpha] (peIF2[alpha]) proteins was detected in human ovarian cancer cells under EVO stimulation, and that was inhibited by JNK inhibitors. Application of the PERK inhibitor, GSK2606414, significantly inhibited EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells. Furthermore, the role that chemical substitutions played in apoptosis, and PERK and JNK activation by EVO was investigated in human ovarian cancer cells.

Methods

Cell culture

High-grade human epithelial ovarian cancer cell lines, SKOV3, ES-2, and A2780, and its daughter line, A2780CP (which is resistant to cisplatin), were obtained from American Type Culture Collection (Rockville, MD, USA). SKOV3, A2780, and A2780CP cells were cultured in RPMI, and ES-2 cells were cultured in McCoy's medium at 37[degrees]C in a 5% C[O.sub.2] atmosphere. Both media were supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum, 1% penicillin/streptomycin, and 1% L-glutamine.

Agents

Chemical reagents including a JNK inhibitor (JNKI), brefeldin A (BFA), SP600125 (SP), BCIP, MTT, and nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) were obtained from Sigma Chemical (St. Louis, MO, USA). Antibodies of [alpha]-tubulin, PARP, caspase-3, PERK, elF2[alpha], and total JNK were obtained from Santa Cruz Biotechnology (Santa Cruz, CA, USA). Antibodies of phosphorylated PERK, JNK, and eIF2[alpha] were obtained from Cell Signaling Technology (Danvers, MA, USA). The synthetic peptidyl inhibitors for pan-caspase (Z-VAD-FMK; VAD), and caspase-3 (Z-DEVD-FMK; DEVD) were purchased from Calbiochem (Darmstadt, Germany).

Synthesis of structure-related chemicals of EVO

The synthesis of EVO-related compounds were based on the coupling of 3,4-dihydro-[beta]-carboline with substituted N-alkyl isatoic anhydride in pyridine as described previously. Briefly, 3,4-dihydro-[beta]-carboline was prepared by reacting tryptamine with ethyl formate and followed by intramolecular ring closure in the presence of PO[Cl.sub.3]. In the presence of NaH and DMF, Isatoic anhydride was alkylated with alkyl halide such as iodomethane, iodoethane, iodoprpopane, 2-methoxy ethyl chloride to afford N-alkyl isatoic anhydride analogues. The purities of them were more than 95% when analyzed by HPLC.

Cell viability assay

Cell viability was assessed by MTT staining. Briefly, cells were plated at a density of [10.sup.5] cells/well in 24-well plates. At the end of treatment, the supernatant was removed, and 30 [micro]l of the tetrazolium compound, MTT, and 270 [micro]l of fresh RPMI medium were added. After incubation for 4 h at 37[degrees]C, 200 [micro]l of 0.1 N HCl in 2-propanol was placed in each well to dissolve the tetrazolium crystals. Finally, the absorbance at a wavelength of 600 nm was recorded using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) plate reader.

Western blotting

Total cellular extracts (30 pig) were prepared and separated on 8% sodium dodecylsulfate (SDS)-polyacrylamide mini gels for PARP detection and 12% SDS-polyacrylamide minigels for detection of the indicated proteins, after transfer to Immobilon polyvinylidene difluoride membranes (Millipore, Bedford, MA, USA). Membranes were incubated at 4[degrees]C with 1% bovine serum albumin and then incubated with the indicated antibodies for a further 3 h at room temperature followed by incubation with an alkaline phosphatase-conjugated immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody for 1 h. Proteins were visualized by incubating with the colorimetric substrates, NBT and BCIP.

DNA fragmentation assay

Cells under different treatments were collected, and then lysed in 100 [micro]l of lysis buffer (50 mM Tris at pH 8.0, 10 mM ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), 0.5% sodium sarkosinate, and 1 mg/ml proteinase K) for 3 h at 56[degrees]C. Then, 0.5 mg/ml RNase A was added to each reaction for another hour at 56[degrees]C. DNA was extracted with phenol/chloroform/isoamyl alcohol (25/24/1) before loading. Then, DNA samples were mixed with 6 [micro]l of loading buffer (50 mM Tris, 10 mM EDTA, 1% (w/w), and 0.025% (w/w) bromophenol blue), and loaded onto a 2% agarose gel containing 0.1 mg/ml ethidium bromide. The agarose gels were run at 100 V for 45 min in TBE buffer, then observed and photographed under UV light.

Pharmacological study

In order to understand if activation of intracellular kinases participated in EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells, various kinases inhibitors including PD98059 and U0126 (ERK inhibitor), SB203580 (p38 inhibitor), SP600125 and JNKI (JNK inhibitor), LY294002 and wortmannin (PI3K/AKT inhibitor), and GSK2606414 (PERK inhibitor) were obtained and used in the study. Briefly, human ovarian cancer cells were treated with indicated inhibitors for 30 min followed by EVO stimulation for different times. Viability, DNA integrity, and morphology, and indicated protein expression in human ovarian cancer cells under different treatments were examined via MTT assay, agarose electrophoresis, microscopic observations, and Western blotting, respectively.

Measurement of the mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP)

After different treatments, cells were incubated with 40 nM DiOC6(3) for 15 min at 37[degrees]C, then washed with ice-cold PBS, and collected by centrifugation at 500 xg for 10 min. Collected cells were resuspended in 500 [micro]l of PBS containing 40 nM DiOC6(3). Fluorescence intensities of DiOC6(3) were analyzed on a flow cytometer (FACScan, Becton Dickinson) with excitation and emission settings of 484 and 500 nm, respectively.

In vitro morphology

Human ovarian cancer cells were grown at a density of 105 cells/well in 24-well plates for 24 h. Cells were treated with various components, and cells were fixed with 3.7% formaldehyde and stained with Giemsa for 10 min. Cell morphological change was examined under a light microscope. Giemsa has been reported to bind with chromosome, and apoptotic cells characterized by nuclear condensation (dark) were observed microscopically.

Statistical analysis

Values are expressed as the meanistandard deviation (SD) of triplicate experiments. The significance of the difference from the respective controls for each experiment was assayed using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with a post-hoc Bonferroni analysis when applicable, and p values of < 0.05 or < 0.01 were considered statistically significant.

Results

EVO reduces the viability of the SKOV-3, A2780, A2780CP, and ES-2 human ovarian cancer cell lines by inducing apoptosis

In this study, we explored whether EVO exerts antitumor activity against various human ovarian cancer cells including SKOV3, ES-2, A2780, and cisplatin-resistant A2780CP cells. The chemical structure of EVO is shown in Fig. 1A. After 24-h exposure of human ovarian cancer cells to EVO at concentrations of 1~4 [micro]M, the viability in EVO-treated cells was significantly lower than that in the untreated control (0.2% DMSO; CON) (Fig. IB). Induction of chromatin-condensation in those cells by EVO was observed microscopically via Giemsa staining (Fig. 1C). Loss of DNA integrity with increased DNA ladders was detected in cells under EVO treatment by a DNA integrity assay (Fig. 1D). Examination of expressions of apoptotic proteins, including caspase-3 and PARP, by Western blotting showed that increased cleavage of caspase-3 and PARP proteins was detected in SKOV-3, A2780, and A2780CP cells under EVO stimulation (Fig. IE). Application of the pan-caspase inhibitor, Z-VAD-FMK (VAD), or the peptidyl caspase-3 inhibitor, Z-DEVD-FMK (DEVD), significantly prevented SKOV-3 and A2780CP cells from EVO-induced cell death according to an MTT assay (Fig. 1F). In order to evaluate the drug's impact on normal non-cancer cells, two human noncancerous cells including WI-38 and Hs68 were used in the study. WI-38 is a diploid human cell line composed of fibroblasts from lung tissue, and a readily-available cell line of normal human tissue. Hs68 is a cell line composed of fibroblasts from human newborn foreskin. Data as shown in Supplemented Fig. 1 indicated that EVO treatment did not affect the viability and morphology of both cells via MTT assay and microscopic observation, respectively. Additionally, EVO also did not alter DNA integrity and caspase-3/PARP protein expression in WI-38 and Hs68 cells. Apoptosis characterized by DNA ladders, chromatin-condensed cells, and caspase-3 and PARP protein cleavages by EVO was identified in human ovarian cancer cells.

Activation of JNK is involved in EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells

In order to examine the role of intracellular kinases including MAPK and AKT in EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells, inhibitors for MAPK members and AKT were applied. Among the tested inhibitors, the JNK inhibitor, SP, showed significant prevention against EVO-induced cytotoxicity in SKOV-3, ES-2, A2780, and A2780CP cells according to an MTT assay (Fig. 2A). Data of Western blotting showed that the addition of SP reduced cleavage of caspase-3 and PARP proteins elicited by EVO in SKOV-3, A2780, and A2780CP cells (Fig. 2B). JNKI, a thienylnaphthamide compound of specific JNK inhibitor, was obtained from Enzo Life Sciences, Inc. (Farmingdale, NY). Incubation of SKOV-3 and A2780CP cells with JNKI inhibited EVO-induced cleavage of caspase-3 and PARP, the same results as derived with SP (Fig. 2C). Analysis of the DNA integrity showing that SP or JNKI addition suppressed EVO-induced DNA ladders in SKOV-3, A2780, and A2780CP cells supported the contribution of JNK to EVO-induced apoptosis (Fig. 2D).

Increased phosphorylation of ER stress proteins, PERK and eIF2[alpha], by EVO in human ovarian cancer cells

We further examined expressions of the ER stress proteins, PERK and eIF2[alpha], in EVO-treated human ovarian cancer cells. As shown in Fig. 3A, EVO at concentrations of 1, 2, and 4 [micro]M increased levels of phosphorylated PERK (pPERK) and eIF2[alpha] (peIF2[alpha]) proteins in SKOV-3, A2780, and A2780CP cells using antibodies specific to pPERK and peIF2[alpha] (Fig. 3A). A shifted band in PERK indicating phosphorylated PERK was observed and labeled by *. Incubation of cells with JNKI inhibited EVO-induced phosphorylation of the JNK protein (pJNK) associated with reduced levels of pPERK and peIF2[alpha] protein in A2780 and A2780CP cells (Fig. 3B). In the same part of the experiment, the JNK inhibitor, SP, inhibited EVO-induced phosphorylation of JNK, PERK, and eIF2[alpha] protein in A2780 and A2780CP human ovarian cancer cells (Fig. 3C).

The PERK inhibitor, GSK, inhibited EVO-induced apoptosis in A2780 and A2780CP human ovarian cancer cells

To further examine the role of the PERK protein in EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells, the PERK inhibitor, GSK2606414 (GSK), was used. Under microscopic observations, EVO-induced chromatin-condensation in cells was prevented according to Giemsa staining by adding GSK to A2780 and A2780CP cells (Fig. 4A). Data of the MTT assay showed that the addition of GSK significantly protected A2780 and A2780CP human ovarian cancer cells from EVO-induced cell death according to an MTT assay (Fig. 4B). DNA ladders induced by EVO in A2780 and A2780CP cells were blocked by GSK addition via agarose electrophoresis (Fig. 4C). Data of Western blotting showed that the EVO-induced phosphorylation of PERK, peIF2[alpha], and JNK proteins was inhibited by GSK without altering the total PERK, eIF2[alpha], or JNK protein expressions in A2780 and A2780CP cells (Fig. 4D).

Decreased mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) by EVO was inhibited by JNK inhibitor SP and PERK inhibitor GSK

Alternation of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) in the presence of EVO stimulation was examined by flow cytometric analysis using a mitochondrial fluorescent probe DiOC6. As shown in Fig. 5A and B, EVO treatment reduced the MMP in both A2780 and 2780CP cells. Incubation of both cells with JNK inhibitor SP (20 [micro]M) or PERK inhibitor GSK (20 [micro]M) significantly suppressed decreases in MMP by EVO. Activation of JNK and PERK leading to disrupted MMP in EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells is suggested.

Structure-activity analysis of the effects of EVO-related compounds on the viability of human ovarian cancer cells

EVO and three EVO-related compounds, including EVO-4, -6, and -8, were applied to examine the role of the chemical structure on apoptosis induction of human ovarian cancer cells. The structures of these chemicals are depicted in Fig. 6A. A methyl, ethyl, and butyl group at position 14 of EVO, EVO-4, and EVO-8, respectively, are marked; however H substitution occurred in EVO-6. Data of the MTT assay and agarose electrophoresis indicated that EVO, EVO-4, and EVO-8, but not EVO-6, significantly reduced the viability with inducing DNA ladders in human ovarian cancer cells A2780, and A2780CP (Fig. 6B). Increased pPERK and peIF2[alpha], and cleaved caspase-3 and PARP protein were observed in A2780 and A2780CP cells under EVO, EVO-4, and EVO-8 treatments according to Western blotting (Fig. 6C). Incubation of A2780 cells with the JNK inhibitor, SP, significantly blocked EVO-4- and -8-induced apoptosis characterized by decreased cleavage of caspase-3 and PARP protein, which was associated with reductions in pPERK and peIF2[alpha] protein (Fig. 6D). Furthermore, incubation of A2780 with the PERK inhibitor, GSK, inhibited cell death induced by EVO-4 and -8 according to an MTT assay, accordingly with decreased cleavages in caspase-3 and pPERK protein (Fig. 6E).

Activation of PERK by the ER stress inducer, BFA, induced apoptosis of A2780 and A2780CP human ovarian cancer cells

The lactone antibiotic BFA as an ER stressor induces apoptosis in various cancers including cervical carcinoma, prostate cancer, and leukemia cells; however, the role of PERK in BFA-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells is not clear. As shown in Fig. 7A, BFA at concentrations of 0.5, 1, and 2 [micro]M significantly reduced the viability of A2780 and A2780CP human ovarian cancer cells. Analysis of DNA integrity showed that increased DNA ladders by BFA were detected in both cell lines treated with different concentrations of BFA (Fig. 7B). Detection of various protein expressions via Western blotting using specific antibodies showed that BFA stimulation induced PERK and eIF2[alpha] protein phosphorylation, accompanied by induction of caspase-3 and PARP protein cleavage in A2780 and A2780CP cells (Fig. 7C). Furthermore, incubation of ovarian cancer cells with the PERK inhibitor, GSK, significantly reduced BFA-induced apoptosis according to an MTT assay (Upper panel) with decreased intensity of DNA ladders according to agarose electrophoresis (Lower panel) (Fig. 7D).

Discussion

EVO was shown to inhibit the proliferation of various cancer cells; however, the effect of EVO on human ovarian cancer cells is still unclear. Results of the present study indicated that EVO reduced the viability of different types of human ovarian cancer cells including A2780, A2780CP, SKOV-3, and ES-2 cells according to the occurrence of apoptotic characteristics such as DNA ladders, chromatin condensation, and caspase-3 and PARP protein cleavage. EVO-induced apoptosis was inhibited by the peptidyl caspase inhibitors, DEVD and VAD, indicating a critical role of caspase activation. Increased phosphorylation of JNK and PERK protein expressions by EVO was observed in ovarian cancer cells, and application of JNK inhibitors, including SP and JNK1, or the PERK inhibitor, GSK, significantly inhibited EVO-induced apoptosis in human ovarian cancer cells. The contribution of JNK and PERK activation to EVO-induced apoptosis in human ovarian cancer cells was first demonstrated herein.

Apoptosis induced by EVO was demonstrated in various cancer cells. Fang et al. reported that EVO reduced the viability of human small-cell cancer cells through mitochondrion-dependent apoptosis (Fang et al., 2014). Our previous study showed that EVO inhibition of the proliferation of human colorectal carcinoma cells was through increased JNK-dependent apoptosis (Chien et al., 2014). EVO showed enhancement of the sensitivity of cancer cells to death stimulation. Wang et al. indicated that EVO synergized with doxorubicin for treating chemoresistant human breast cancer cells (Wang et al., 2014). Although the antitumor activity of EVO was reported in different cancer cells, the effect of EVO on human ovarian cancer cells is still unknown. In this study, four human ovarian cancer cell lines, including SKOV-3, ES-2, A2780, and cisplatin-resistant A2780CP, were used. Data showed that EVO significantly reduced the viability of respective cancer cells associated with the occurrence of apoptotic characteristics such as DNA ladders, hypodiploid cells, and activation of caspase-3. No dose-dependent response by EVO in human ovarian cancer cells via MTT assay (Fig. 1B) may due to the small ranges of EVO concentrations used in the study. Application of the peptidyl caspase-3 or caspase-9 inhibitors, DEVD or VAD, prevented cell death induced by EVO in human ovarian cancer cells. Consistent with results from previous studies, EVO induced apoptosis in human ovarian cancer cells in a caspase-dependent manner (Gao et al., 2011).

JNKs are master kinases that regulate several physiological processes, including apoptosis, proliferation, survival, and differentiation. Increased evidence supports activation of JNKs being involved in cancer development and progression. Kimura et al. reported that JNK activation contributed to SCDC2 cell proliferation under epidermal growth factor (EGF) stimulation (Kimura et al., 2013). Wilson et al. indicated that JNK activation led to the proliferation of cancer cells (Wilson et al., 1996). In contrast to JNK-mediated proliferation in cancers, JNK activation was identified to be involved in apoptosis of cancer cells under chemical exposure. Dominant-negative JNK blocked taxol-induced apoptosis in human ovarian cancer cells. JNK knockout fibroblasts were resistant to vinblastine, suggesting that JNK might play an important role in the response to that drug. Our previous study showed that JNK inhibitors significantly reduced apoptosis of human colorectal carcinoma cells elicited by EVO (Chien et al., 2014). In that study, pharmacological inhibitors specifically blocking the indicated kinases were used, and MIT data showed that the JNK inhibitors, SP and JNKI, significantly inhibited EVO-induced cell death, associated with decreased apoptotic events including DNA ladders, and caspase-3 and PARP protein cleavage in human ovarian cancer ceils. Contribution of the proapoptotic effect by JNK to EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells was demonstrated.

Accumulating evidence suggests that induction of ER stress induces cell death, offering a novel chemotherapeutic target for cancer. Three types of ER transmembrane proteins are important in the ER stress response including PERK, protein kinase and site-specific endonuclease (IRE1), and activating transcription factor 6 (ATF6). PERK-mediated signaling was characterized as a novel mechanism in chemical-induced apoptosis via phosphorylation of eIF2[alpha] at Ser 51. However, the role PERK plays in EVO-induced apoptosis against human ovarian cancer cells is still unknown. Increased phosphorylation of PERK at Thr980 and eIF2[alpha] at Ser51 by EVO were detected in A2780 and A2780CP cells, and the PERK inhibitor, GSK, ameliorated EVO-induced apoptosis with reduced PERK and eIF2[alpha] protein phosphorylation. Additionally, stimulation of PERK and eIF2[alpha] protein phosphorylation by the ER stress inducer, BFA, induced apoptosis in A2780 and A2780CP cells, which was inhibited by the PERK inhibitor, GSK. These results reveal an important role for the PERK pathway in antitumor activities of EVO against human ovarian cancer cells. Another interesting observation of the current study was that EVO-induced PERK and eIF2[alpha] protein phosphorylation was blocked by the addition of the JNK inhibitors, JNKI or SP. In the same part of the experiment, incubation of cells with the PERK inhibitor, GSK, suppressed EVO-induced JNK protein phosphorylation in human ovarian cancer cells. Cross-activation between JNK and PERK leading to apoptosis by EVO was demonstrated.

In order to estimate the structures that contribute to the apoptosis induced by EVO in human ovarian cancer cells, apoptosis of A2780 and A2780CP cell lines by four EVO-related chemicals possessing structures similar to that of EVO was examined. Results indicated that chemicals such as EVO, EVO-4, and EVO-8 containing alkyl groups such as ethyl or butyl at position 14 significant reduced the viability via apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells, and increased PERK and eiF2[alpha] protein phosphorylation by EVO-4 and EVO-8 was observed. The JNK inhibitor, SP, and PERK inhibitor, GSK, suppressed apoptosis elicited by EVO-4 and EVO-8 in cells. Ogasawara et al. also indicated the role of a methyl group at position 14 for EVO in inhibiting invasion by Lewis lung cancer and melanoma cells (Ogasawara and Suzuki, 2004). Additionally, EVO-6 sharing the same chemical structure as EVO without methyl group at position 14 did not affect the viability and DNA integrity of human ovarian cancer cells. This indicates that alkyl substitutions at position 14 are critical for apoptosis by EVO in human ovarian cancer cells through activation of JNK and PERK. Contribution of alkyl groups at position 14 to antitumor activity of EVO against human ovarian cancers needed to be further investigated in vivo.

The standard of treatment for women with advanced ovarian cancer remains surgery and platinum-based cytotoxic chemotherapy, and resistance to platinum chemotherapy is one of the main factors leading to ovarian cancer mortality (Marsh, 2009; Raja et al., 2012). Therefore, overcoming platinum resistance is considered to be one of the greatest challenges in treating ovarian cancers. The present study used SKOV-3, A2780, and cisplatin-resistant A2780CP cells which are serous ovarian cancer cells, and EVO at concentrations of 1, 2, and 4 [micro]M significantly reduced their viability via apoptosis. These results revealed that EVO has the ability to overcome cisplatin resistance and might be effective in treating serous ovarian cancer cells. Clear-cell ovarian carcinoma showing chemoresistance leads to poor prognoses in clinics, and there is no effective chemotherapy for clear-cell carcinoma of the ovaries except surgery. EVO significantly reduced the viability of ES2, a dear-cell carcinoma cell, in the present study. In summary, our findings indicate that EVO exerts antitumor activity via caspase-3-dependent apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells. Activation of JNK and PERK by EVO was detected, and the JNK inhibitors, JNKI and SP, and the PERK inhibitor, GSK, significantly inhibited the EVO-induced apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells. A tentative mechanism of JNK and PERK activation by EVO to disrupt mitochondrial membrane potential leading to apoptosis of human ovarian cancer cells was reported (Fig. 8). The apoptotic roles of JNK and PERK activation by EVO in human ovarian cancer cells were demonstrated herein.

ARTICLE INFO

Article history:

Received 26 August 2015

Revised 30 October 2015

Accepted 8 December 2015

Conflicts of interest

The authors who took part in this study declare that they have nothing to disclose regarding funding or conflicts of interest with respect to this manuscript.

Author contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: YC Chen. Performed the experiments: TC Chen, CC Chien. Analyzed the data: MS Wu. Wrote the paper: TC Chen and YC Chen.

Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the National Science Council of Taiwan (MOST103-2320-B-038-003), Taipei Medical University-Wan Fang Hospital (104TMU-WFH-02-2), and Taipei Medical University-Chi Mei Hospital (104CM-TMU-05).

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Tze-Chien Chen (a,b,1), Chih-Chiang Chien (c,d,1), Ming-Shun Wu (e), Yen-Chou Chena (a,f), *

(a) Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

(b) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mackay Memorial Hospital Taipei, Taiwan

(c) Department of Nephrology, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan

(d) Department of Food Nutrition, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology, Tainan, Taiwan

(e) Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Wan Fang Hospital, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

(f) Cancer Research Center and Orthopedics Research Center, Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

Abbreviations: BC1P, 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl phosphate; BFA, brefeldin A; DMSO, dimethyl sulfoxide; elF2[alpha]!, eukaryotic translation initiation factor-2[alpha]; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; ERK, extracellular signal-regulated kinase; EVO, evodiamine; GSK, GSK2606414; JNK, c-Jun N-terminal kinase; LDH, lactate dehydrogenase; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinase; MTT, 3-(4,5,-dimethylthiazol)2-yl-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide; NBT, nitroblue tetrazolium; PARP, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase; peIF2[alpha], phosphorylated-eIF2[alpha]; PERK, double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR)-like ER kinase; pPERK, phosphorylated-PERK; SDS, sodium dodecylsulfate; SP, SP600125; U0, U0126; UPR, unfolded protein response; MMP, mitochondrial membrane potential.

* Corresponding author at: Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan. Tel.: +886 2 27361661x3421; fax: +886 2 23778620.

E-mail address: yc3270@tmu.edu.tw (Y.-C. Chen).

(1) Dr. Chen and Dr. Chien contributed equally to the present work.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phymed.2015.12.003
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Author:Chen, Tze-Chien; Chien, Chih-Chiang; Wu, Ming-Shun; Chen, Yen-Chou
Publication:Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9TAIW
Date:Jan 15, 2016
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